Vidal shines as enforcer and scorer
He ran and tackled, always going for the one-on-ones - and he scored the match-winner too. Arturo Vidal is becoming more and more important for FC Bayern in the decisive weeks of the season. The Chilean shone in the narrow 1-0 victory against Benfica in the Champions League quarter-final first leg, not only as the scorer of the game's only goal, but also as a tireless leader with great quality in the challenge who often recovered the ball.
"I'm very happy. I was a little tired after the internationals in Chile. But today I felt very good. Of course I'm very happy that I scored and that we won. We're in a good position to get through to the next round," commented Vidal after the first leg.
"He's a player who infects others with his energy," Pep Guardiola had said before the encounter with the Portuguese record champions, confirming early on that the 28-year-old would play, which is quite unusual for the FCB head coach. After the match the Catalan felt his judgment call was right: "Arturo is very important, he has great character, he's very experienced. He's done very well over the last few months. We need him."
Vidal covered 11.7 kilometres against Benfica, more than any other Bayern pro. He topped his already strong stats in the two meetings with Juventus, 11.1 and 11.4 kilometres respectively, in which he excelled in a central role in front of the defence. He tried to block every shot, crowning his brilliant display as early as 110 seconds into the contest with his first Champions League goal for FCB.
Feeling at home
"You know what to expect from Arturo, and he did just that," declared Thomas Müller. "It's always a great impulse for the team when you recover the ball," the world champion said as he considered one of the crucial attributes brought to the team by Vidal, who is now the top Chilean Champions League scorer on 10 goals, one ahead of Alexis Sanchez.
He obviously feels at home in this position. "I like it. I often have the ball, I can attack, I can defend. I like to be where the danger is," explained the 'Warrior' on Tuesday evening. Guardiola values Vidal's speed, his quality in the tackle and aggressive pressing "between the lines," by which he plays his part in "the stability in our defence," stressed Guardiola.
Vidal, who lost last year's Champions League final with Juventus, has big plans for his first year at FC Bayern: "I hope it continues. I hope I can still improve. The tough matches lie ahead now. And I hope that we can achieve what we set out to do."